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Bruce & Beverly's Blog

On to Ft. Myers!
By Beverly Kness
Posted on 12/4/2018 1:18 PM


It was 56 degrees, winds were ENE at 5-10 mph, with soft fluffy clouds, as our fleet of two,
Knot just Dreamin and Seaquest, left the Downtown Marina in Beaufort, SC.



We would be entering Georgia today as we traveled to the Thunderbolt Marina near Savannah. 
The clouds began to look heavy, we hoped that we would arrive at the marina before it rained.



We passed Daufuskie Island on our way.  The name Daufuskie, originated from the early
settlers identifying their island as "Da-Fus-Key" (the first key) and still, to this day, there is
no vehicular access to the island. The photo below shows the ferries that are used for
transportation to the mainland.





The early settlers, the small native population (direct descendants of slaves
brought from Africa) lived an isolated life. Arthur Pat Conroy chronicled his
experience as a schoolteacher on the island in his book "The River is Wide."
The movie based on the book "Conrack" was filmed on St. Simons Island.  



It was just starting to rain when our fleet of two arrived at the Thunderbolt Marina near
Savannah, GA. That evening, Shawn and Cindy ate aboard Knot Just Dreamin and we ate
aboard Seaquest. We had stayed at the Thunderbolt Marina before and we remembered that
they gave every boat, that wanted it, a box of crispy cream donuts in the morning.  This time
was no different. We were given a box of six crispy cream donuts and they were delicious! 

   

We had a short day of travel ahead of us as our main plan was to stage our travel through the
notorious Hell Gate at anytime but low tide!  The tide swing is 8-9 feet in this area so to travel
at low or high tide makes quite a difference!  We looked at our tide apps and found out that 
low tide at Hell Gate was 11:06 am.  From that information we could plan our day's
travel so we would not get grounded while passing through that area.




It all went good and we arrived at our destination, Kilkenny Marina, about 2:30 pm.
Kilkenny was a rustic marina near New Richmond, Georgia. 




The next morning, Seaquest and Knot Just Dreamin pulled our lines at 7:30 am and
began our journey to Brunswick Landing Marina, in Brunswick, Georgia.
Again, it was important to plan out our departure time.  Our day's travel would take us
through the notorious Little Mud River.  We were keenly aware that parts of it is not
 passible at low tide which was scheduled for noon that day.  Our planning allowed us
to make our way through this portion of the Georgia ICW without any issues. 

The rivers and canals connected to a series of sounds (large bodies of water) flowing to
the open ocean. Some of these sounds are large and exposed enough to the Atlantic Ocean
to get a little rough, but they also provide a nice change of pace from the rivers and land cuts
we navigate most of the time. It was after 4:00 pm when we pulled up to the fuel dock at
Brunswick Landing and we were happy to have arrived! Cheryl and Cal had been at Brunswick
Landing for almost two weeks living on their boat, NdaSkyZ. They bought their boat from
two undercover policemen so that explains the name of their boat.



 

We were ready for a few days on land!  Brunswick Landing is a nice marina with clean
restrooms and showers along with free laundry in nine washers and dryers! 
That was great!  Not only was it free but there were a lot of machines!  

The marina provided the Turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes and drinks for
a wonderful Thanksgiving meal while everyone else brought a side dish. 
As you can imagine there was a lot of delicious food!  








Our flotilla of three, Knot Just Dreamin, NdaSkyZ and Seaquest left Brunswick Landing
in the fog!  It was one of the few foggy days that we have experienced and it was
Cheryl and Cal's very first day of travel!   

                                               

                   

Our route took us along side of Cumberland Island which was once the center of
controversy over development plans. It achieved its protected status as a
National Seashore decades ago, ensuring that most of the island will remain in its
primitive state.  No road or causeway from the mainland will ever be constructed.
The federal government owns approximately 85 percent of the island.  Private
property includes Greyfield Inn and several cottages passed down
through several generations of Cumberland Island families.
 
All Island visitors must bring their own food and supplies and transport all their
garbage back to the mainland.  Most visitors arrive via ferry service from St. Marys,
a 45-minute trip.  This was the first time that we have ever seen the wild horses on the
island, however, because of the fog we could hardly see them! It is believed
that a few horses were probably brought to Cumberland as livestock when Spanish
missions were established in the late 1500s. A feral animal is an animal that was once
domesticated, but has reverted to a wild state and adjusted to surviving in a natural
environment without help or support of any kind from humans. Cumberland's horses are
considered to be feral. Cumberland has the only herd of feral horses on the Atlantic
coast that is not managed (no food, water, veterinary care or population control).

Below: wild horses playing on the beach (in the fog) on Cumberland Island .


                                                                                                                                                                         

It was nearly noon before the fog lifted. 

We were now in Florida!

The active Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, located in Cumberland Sound continues to be
the reason for frequent dredging and renumbering of buoys, beginning where the ICW
joins the head of Cumberland Sound and continuing to the ocean inlet.  The channel
is consequently quite deep and wide.  The submarines travel at high speeds in open
water, creating very large wakes.  It would have been exciting to see a submarine
but then again, it was less stressful to not see one! 

Pictured below is a decontamination shoot that the submarines enter
before docking at the submarine base.

 
 







 It was nearly 3:00 pm when our fleet
arrived at Amelia Island Marina.



Florida's northernmost city, Fernandina Beach, is on Amelia Island.
The photo below was taken as we rode past Fernandina Beach.




The six of us went out for dinner that evening in Fernandina Beach, Shawn and Cindy on
Knot Just Dreamin
, Cheryl and Cal on NdaSkyZ and Bruce and Bev on Seaquest. 





The city looked festive with the beautiful Christmas lights! 







We noticed a group of people along with police cars on the corner of the street. 
Like everyone else, we were inquisitive.  The vehicle in the photo below took an
early right turn down the railroad tracks instead of on the street! 



It was a beautiful morning when our fleet of three left Ameila Island Marina.



There were many beautiful homes along the way.




Our flotilla traveled together to St. Augustine, the oldest settlement in the United States.
Shawn and Cindy's schedule allowed them to stay only one night in St. Augustine.

 We stayed two nights in an effort to see more of the sites.


 




We are beginning to see Palm Trees along the sides of the channel now and the route is mostly
straight. There are several bridges along the way, some we can get under and some need to be
opened to allow us to pass through.  The procedure is that if the bridge is too low for us to
get under, we contact the bridge tenders on Channel 9 and request an opening. The
bridges in this area open on demand.  While on the loop we did come to bridges that only
open on the hour or half hour. The railroad bridges are usually open unless they are expecting 
an oncoming train. The photo below shows three upcoming bridges. The first bridge is a
fixed bridge with 64 foot clearance, the second bridge was an open railroad bridge
and the third bridge was one we had to request an opening.  




Just after we had passed through this railroad bridge we heard the horn blast indicating
that the railroad bridge would be closing for an oncoming train! We were very happy that
we hadn't arrived there any later than we did or we could have had to wait for the train.

The next day we traveled to Halifax River Yacht Club at Daytona Beach.  




The next day our travel continued on to New Smyrna City Marina.  We wanted to stop there
because our friends David and Angelica are staying in a condo here, 10 minutes from the
marina.  Angelica was so kind to take Cheryl and I to the grocery store so we could pick
up a few provisions.  That evening we had a nice dinner together.  It was fun to see
David and Angelica who are from Ketchikan, Alaska. The name of their boat
is Ocean Star and it is being stored up north for the winter. 








Dolphins are a regular sight these days. 

They love to swim next to the boat and they are so fun to watch!









Our days travel took us to Melbourne Harbor Marina.  The downtown was just a
few blocks from the marina so we took a walk.  We were surprised to see an event
going on where people would bring wrapped or unwrapped gifts to a police escorted
trailer. The plan for the gifts is that they will be given to children in the area. 



The next day, we met up with Kate and Eddy on Total Eclipse at the Fort Pierce City
Marina. Ed and Kate are from Flagstaff, AZ and their daughter was visiting
them at the time. It was fun to meet her.   





Every Saturday, year round, a farmers' market is held at the waterfront park next to
the Fort Pierce City Marina.  We have been at the city marina before but never on a
Saturday. It was a huge farmers' market which includes fresh produce, baked goods,
arts, crafts and live entertainment.  We were happy to get in on it.





We are watching the weather and making our way to Lake Okeechobee!   
At Stewart we enter the Florida's lower east coast.  At the St. Lucie Inlet,
the ICW and the St. Lucie River intersect. This area is known as The Crossroads. 
It is here that we have a choice of three routes. 1. Continue down the ICW to
the resort areas of southern Florida; 2. Move outside via the St. Lucie Inlet and cruise
down the Atlantic Ocean; or 3. Travel along the St. Lucie, down the south fork
through the Okeechobee waterway to Ft. Myers on the west coast of Florida.
Since our plan is to go to Ft. Myers we followed route # 3. 

We stayed for the evening at American Custom Yachts. 




This would stage us for passing through the locks and for
crossing Lake Okeechobee.  Lake Okeechobee is the second-largest freshwater lake
located wholly in the continental United States (after Lake Michigan). 
Likened to a saucer full of water, Lake Okeechobee is shallow with normal depths from
7-11 feet.  During periods of strong winds, the lake becomes choppy and turbulent. 

We were thankful for calm winds that day however we did need to turn our radar on
because it was very foggy as we entered the lake. 
 








Cheryl and Cal experienced their first locks! 

We went through at least 100 locks on our Great Loop trip.







 


Once the fog lifted we had calm water and a nice trip across Lake Okeechobee!







That evening after crossing Lake Okeechobee, we stopped for the night
at the Moore Haven City Docks.




Two other looper boats, Salt Water Taffy and Satisfied Frog, joined us there that evening.

The next morning, was a beautiful 80 degree day as our fleet of four continued
on to our destination, Edison Ford Marina in Ft. Myers! 

The photo below shows an alligator along the shore of the waterway on the
west side of Lake Okeechobee.








We followed the Caloosahatchee River and arrived at the marina about 3:30 pm
and we were happy to be there!  

Joining us here are Paul and Taffy on Salt Water Taffy, Berlin and Debra on
Satisfied Frog
and Shawn and Cindy on Knot Just Dreamin who drove over
from Englewood, where they are staying for the winter. 

It was fun to see these "looper" friends! 
 





One of the best parts of doing the loop is the people we have met along the way. 
We crossed paths with strangers and soon became good friends.

Our plan is to spend the winter in Ft. Myers.  


  




Curtis Stokes and Associates
Cruisers' Net
Shady Harbor Marina